Thursday, October 31, 2013

They think it’s all over ; perhaps, it isn’t yet.

While Johnny B , Smack and Drew went gallivanting off to the Emerald Isle to play shinty/iomain/hurling-the Wing Centre forgets which- back in the Glen of Monsters the clock was ticking down to the annual Sale of Work not to mention the AGM and the Dinner Dance. The Treasurer hates this time of the year, not because of the fact that he has to go round the doors and put out leaflets but because he has to insert adverts into the Highland News and the Courier and since no one in Scotland below the age of 65 reads genuine “paper” newspapers any more, nobody actually sees them. Still he gets grief if he forgets to put them in. As a consequence, this year he sent them in so early that even if anyone did see them they would surely have forgotten about them long before the actual events were held. The only thing that still keeps him sane is the Lotto which has now mounted up to the sum of £2,000 after last night’s draw in the Benleva Hotel did not provide a winner. Mr Reid is equally pleased.
Pleased too is Mr Reid’s son Stuart who has been tasked with preparing the Scotland Women’s shinty team for their clash with the Irish representative side this Saturday at the Bught Park.

Stuart took on the task earlier this year and has put in a power of work since then and with the general increase in standards of Women’s shinty over recent years the Saturday’s match should be an excellent one.
As for Stuart, he has been a stalwart for the Glen for years and it’s a great pity that his employment has taken him out of the shinty heartland where his knowledge of the game and coaching ability could be put to more effective use. Still being based in Aberdeen is a little better than being based south of the border where he used to be. It was also good to see that local Glen firm Loch Ness Gifts came up with the sponsorship for the girls. Good on them.
 Hurling/Shinty International Series First Test
Ireland v Scotland, Croke Park

Ireland 4-12 (24)   Scotland 2-12 (18)
Given that the “D” is a shamelessly Glen-orientated blog it would be very much to be regretted if there was no mention made of last weekend’s International clash of the codes at Croke Park. The Wing Centre always takes an interest in such cultural exchanges and given the Glen involvement it would be remiss not to put a word or two down on screen about it. The problem was always going to be the pictures. A word with his old friend Crofter snapper Neil Paterson soon elicited that Neilac wasn’t going across the sea to Ireland and nor was he able to go to Dalcross International Terminus 1 to see the guys off.
What to do?
“Get the Glen international players to take a “selfie” at the airport. Don’t bother asking Drew though ‘cos he’s just so not there” said the young Glenner  wearing the Dr Dre Beats casually slung round his neck when the Wing Centre asked him how to get out of the bit. So having been tutored in the photographic art of “selfies” and the taking thereof by the youngster with the skateboard before he shot off down Balmacaan Road, the Wing Centre texted Smack and JB.
What he got was nothing from the airport but this from Croke Park: JB and Smack smiling at the camera.
“What do you think of this for a “selfie”?” said the Wing Centre to the young Glenner when he saw him the day after.
“Cool, “he said “but it’s not a selfie. Perhaps JB and Smack just aren’t there either. No skooky faces, no mirror behind them, too much clarity of focus and the clue is in the name, they are not taking it themselves. I reckon only EJ would have got it right-or maybe Corky since everyone knows he’s good with a mobile phone. Never mind.”
Selfies aside, Scotland did sort of OK in the Croke Park match though they will have to be really and literally on the ball in the gutters at the Bught this Saturday. Last weekend’s affair with its three Macraes, three Newtonmore guys, three Crofters, two Glenners, two Kingussie guys plus boys from Beauly, Oban, Kilmallie,Lochaber and Kyles did make it into the press and the consensus would seem to be that if Scotland apply themselves then they have a chance to turn round the two goal deficit and win the trophy for the first time in five years.
In Dublin they lost two goals very quickly and when they did get back into the match with  nice goals from Liam Macdonald and Finlay Macrae they again fell down to a further two quick Irish strikes , the first through an unfortunate clearance error and the second to a rebound after a free hit  was saved by Lovat’s Stuart Macdonald. If that underlined anything it was that the Irish lads were quicker to the second ball than the visitors and unless this is addressed then turning round the result is unlikely. Doubtless it will be addressed.
Scotland had a simple but effective game plan –work the ball wide and forward along the ground using shinty skills-and because the guys did not panic and stuck to it they gave a gutsy performance especially in the second half which pulled back the points. In the first half the dark blue forwards were playing behind their men: in the second half they sorted this out. Finlay Macrae had an excellent game but was wasteful of chances early on though the fact was that the Irish players were allowed away with a good deal of holding and spoiling certainly contributed to his misses.   
As the match continued the Scots grew in confidence and by the end they had managed to reduce the deficit further when Finlay Macrae popped over a dead ball for a two pointer and in the end, Scotland finished the stronger hitting the bar and adding singles from John Macrae, Glen Mackintosh and Steven Macdonald.
By the end the gap was reduced to two goals and with a bit more luck and less paint on the woodwork the gap might have been smaller still.
At halftime in the Aussie Rules match- a non-event if the size of the score and the smallness of the crowd was anything to go by- a Scotland select faced an Irish side in the new sport of Iomain with the new clubs made by Alan Macpherson, son of former Glenner Alan (team of ’77 with Mr Reid). As far as anyone has reported the game seemed all right, though from the shape of the stick one would imagine the hurley players to have been at the greater disadvantage. Will it catch on?  Who can say but if the pics of JB here are anything to go by it looks like shinty and if that helps to spread the shinty gospel, then go for it.
He ought not to be holding his opponent’s stick though.
For the meantime  a win against Ireland by any score would do for the Wing Centre so let’s hope Drew’s side go for it as well.
Pictures-the non selfie via Smack, the Glensome threesome via Mrs Drew , Stuart Reid and the sponsors via Tina Marshall  , the Scotland squad from the Camanachd and of course from the same source Drum school’s own Lee Bain.
“You have to put Lee in,” said Mrs Wing Centre,” because he went to Drum School.”
 Indeed when you think about it there’s a case for Lee being the most successful sportsman ever to have come out of Drum school. Rowan Shepherd might have played rugby for Scotland; Ikey Fraser may have been Caley and County goalie but Lee Bain won a Balliemore medal  with Strathglass and then went on to win senior medals with Kingussie. Now he’s got a Scotland cap. You can’t argue with that.

No you can’t and what is more you don’t argue with Mrs Wing Centre- so Lee goes in right at the top.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

By Truth , Justice and the Great Glen Way , the Avengers invade Argyll.

After the Camanachd Cup final, which was a bit of an anti-climax for everyone outside of Newtonmore, the Glen had nothing left to do but turn up at Tighnabruaich for the last match of the season. In fact the Wing Centre had made it to An Aird for the final and like everyone else in the north had called the result correctly but he was disappointed that Kyles did not seem to turn up on the day. If fact the best thing about the Camanachd Cup final this year was the amazing Gondola pictures. In the last “D” the Wing Centre slagged off the “Cup up the Ben” shot for being a little too touristy but he likes the Gondola pix and wasn’t Robbie Macleod brave.
However, when the Kyles lads got home after the match they would have reproached themselves for their performance.
Having said that, there was an Albert Smith medal winning performance from Newtonmore captain Jamie Robinson who made up for MacAulay disappointment in Oban two weeks before.
 Glen Mackintosh and Steven Macdonald were also players who caught the eye by putting in superb performances. Steven Macdonald applied himself to subduing Roddy Macdonald and did it so completely that Roddy was limited to a shot or two which flew high over the bar but it was Glen who ran selflessly up front and created stuff as well as bagging a goal. The Wing Centre has watched Glen in action against the Glen many times - if ever there is a player who has a name that will fit in on Loch Ness-side he is the man-and he just keeps on going. He gets knocked down: he gets up; he does not care if his opponents don’t like him; he carries on regardless. You would like him in your team: you would not like him playing against you. He is certainly worth his international cap and if he is in the mood and up for a tussle then the Irish will have their hands full trying to cope with him.

 Kyles Athletic 1 Glenurquhart 1 (Orion Premier League)

 The trip to Tighnabruaich could have been more than a little tricky. After all the Glen travelled without Arran Macdonald, James Macpherson, Lewis Maclennan, Paul Mackintosh and Ewan Brady- but they clearly went down in the mood to enjoy the day. Kyles were also missing players with David Zavaroni and Roddy Macdonald unavailable.
It has to be said that underfoot conditions were not great with a pitch that was absolutely sodden and soft with the grass cutting of the previous week lying on the surface. Bearing this in mind, team positioning given the options which were available was of the utmost importance. The line-up needed a strong defence to dig in for periods, a forward line that would carry a threat with Neale Reid and Fraser Heath tasked with not only spearheading the attack but also making sure that the defenders would have to really work to clear their lines.  The midfield was always going to have a difficult afternoon having to deal with the Dunky Kerr/Robbie Macleod running threat and a lot was asked of Dixie Maclennan and Eddie Tembo in the middle with Liam Girvan also being asked to fulfil a difficult role by stepping in at full centre.
The opening 5-10 minutes was a little rocky with Dunky Kerr twice breaking forward but firing over: on the other wing Eddie Tembo was very quickly able to blunt the threat of Robbie Macleod – and then gradually Glen moved up a gear to post a strong 20-25 minutes from the defence and the midfield.  Neale Reid and Fraser Heath began to get more ball and the red and blacks began to create opportunities with Reid winning most one to ones with Donald Irvine. Indeed Reid got through 3 times on Kenny Macdonald’s goal in this spell with Heath working off him well.
Eventually from a free hit Reid played in Fraser Heath who scored from inside the box giving the Glen a well-deserved lead. Truthfully the Glen should have been further ahead by this stage with Reid putting in an excellent shift at full forward and on a drier surface he would certainly have scored twice
Kyles however never give up and made a renewed effort to get back in the game.  With Dixie Maclennan beginning to tire against the pace of Dunky Kerr, Fraser Heath was brought back to midfield to curb his threat and Maclennan moved up to full forward and Reid was told to play a little deeper. While the Glen were perhaps disappointed not to be further ahead, a 1-0 lead at half time was probably a fair reflection despite the fact that Kenny Macdonald had been the busier goalie.
Kyles went for it at the restart and threw players forward on every piece of possession. Keeper
Stuart Mackintosh had to make one great hand save but at the other end there were also opportunities for Dave Smart, Dixie Maclennan and Neale Reid to make Kyles pay as the Glen counterattacked. Reid in particular was in excellent form collecting possession regularly at half forward and causing problems for Kyles.
Unfortunately, Kyles eventually equalised in 60 minutes through a scrambled effort but the Glen defence had brought this on themselves by failing to clear their lines with any real accuracy and this simply invited Kyles to press home their attacks. Ross MacAulay took a break from the defence with youngster Euan Lloyd going into his position and Billy Urquhart came on and joined the forward line. Lloyd picked up Dunky Kerr and this helped bolster the defence which was beginning to feel the pressure. Glen then picked up the energy level and Heath, Girvan and Tembo got on top across the middle again.
With 15 mins left Glen decided to push for the win so Fraser Heath moved back up front, Dixie Maclennan came off and a rested Ross MacAulay returned to the fray at wing centre. Things looked positive for the remaining time but right at the death Kyles had a shot that went whistling across the face of goals and Glen boss Drew MacNeil along with the travelling support were relieved to hear the final whistle.  Glen certainly had chances to win the match but then again so did Kyles.
On reflection the game was a good one for the Glen boys. It was certainly a hard fought match in difficult conditions which finished off the season on a positive high note. Throughout the match the Glen produced and continued to try to produce skilful phases of flowing shinty. It was a good team effort that required everyone to roll up their sleeves and remain positive about themselves and their team mates. Individually there were some good displays and without the players doing specific training on Wednesday and Friday the result would have been unachievable.   A 1-1 draw was fair enough.

 So then there was the trick of trying to get home from Kyles before the Monday. As may be seen from the pics the young fellows having put the season to bed, were in party mood and in the mood for amateur dramatics. For one thing they all put on fancy dress and must have caused a stir when they erupted from the Kyles changing room.
A small one act play then ensued in which a manager received a red card from a ref and his two goal judges. Hendo played the part of the manager, young Ali Mac the ref while Mr Reid (bottle-stopper specs) and Dodo played the part of the goal judges. Wherever did they get that idea?
Eventually the Wing Centre had it explained to him: Hendo was not playing himself. He was dressed up as a former Glen manager in symbolic battledress and wearing a bathing cap to simulate baldness though why Hendo should want to wear a bathing cap to simulate baldness when he doesn’t actually have much hair is a mystery to all. Mr Reid and Dodo were probably just playing themselves.
Batman reassured the ladies in the chipper in Inveraray that they would be safe now. Having been in character all day he lost his voice before he got home. Spidey had them climbing the walls in Ballachulish: Captain America who’d had an excellent game had lost his vibranium shield by the end of the day but by the skin of the hairs of Odin’s beard they all made it home safely-just.
Enjoy the pics especially the one of the lads in fancy dress.

What else has happened?
Ewan Carroll was recognized for his U14 selection for the North squad, and Euan Lloyd was picked for the U17 North squad.
Meanwhile the kids managed to win their under 14 Division 3 trophy which was very good to see and thanks go out to Stuart Morrison the team coach for all his hard work. Thanks are also due to Davie Stewart, Helen Maclennan and Laura Stoddart and all the other club helpers as well as to Bobo Morrison who is always a willing referee.
Finally the Wing Centre was leafing through the Herald (7/10/2013) when on the business pages he came across a familiar face. Well done to Martin English, a Glenner once and forever, for some years the Managing Director of Keppie Design Ltd which appears to draw up the plans for every public sector building in Scotland and a good many beyond.

Still Martin lives on in the hearts of Glenners as the man who scored the winner on the Eilean back in October 1986 in what was the first victory the Glen had recorded there against Newtonmore since turning senior in 1963.
Of course Glen has won there since - but Mr. English was in there at the start.  Surely he’ll subscribe to the Lotto now.
See if you can match him from  his professional photo to his appearance in the 1986/87pic.
He also appears in the snap from the Newtonmore Veterans' Tournament along with two other Glenners of yore, Davie Bell and Billy Maclean. I bet if they had taken Jamie Bell and wee Billy Macleod along they would have won the trophy.
Neil Paterson ( )is responsible for the photo of Jamie Robinson and the one of Martin and the guys in the Newtonmore Veterans tournament . The Camanachd Association provided the Gondola snap while the rest were sourced in the Glen.

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